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Licencing enables someone to recieve compensation for their ideas.

Thank you.

Regardless by what means - I certainly hope you succeed in your goal.

This is an area where scientific research may show us something. It's not only required that you make a discovery to be credited as `the´ inventor. It's required that you document your findings in a recognized publication reviewed by your peers before anyone else does. If you're not the first in publishing, bad luck.

Pedro that is a fantastic idea.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Considering that there is no disputing the fact that the chefs who originally created these dishes are truly artists and not simply craftsmen, what prevents this from being an unauthorized reproduction of their work? My big question would be :

Was this chef authorized to reproduce and claim as his own the dishes he learned as a stagiere by the chefs who created them?

Taking it so far as to duplicate the exact graphic design of the photos and not give attribution, the shrimp pasta dish for example... photos are definitely copyrighted material, aren't they?

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Considering that there is no disputing the fact that the chefs who originally created these dishes are truly artists and not simply craftsmen, what prevents this from being an unauthorized reproduction of their work?  My big question would be was this chef authorized to reproduce the dishes he learned as a stagiere by the original creators and claim them as his own? 

Taking it so far as to duplicate the exact graphic design of the photos and not give attribution, the shrimp pasta dish for example... photos are definitely copyrighted material, aren't they?

I believe that if one invites the stage, one just takes that risk. We cant police everyone. What if there were 50 chefs that decided to copy all of Chef G's dishes. Then this discussion would be futile and we wouldnt know where to begin.

Photos and pictures that are taken by someone that has created or copied a dish or technique are not infringing on any copyright law. Simply because the picture is of something that has no copyright or patent protection. Now lets say he decided to recreate something Alinea did file protection for, and filed a PCT or international protection for, then the law is being broken.

When we cut and paste a photo digitally without authorization, then it also becomes illegal.


Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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Considering that there is no disputing the fact that the chefs who originally created these dishes are truly artists and not simply craftsmen, what prevents this from being an unauthorized reproduction of their work?  My big question would be : 

Was this chef authorized to reproduce and claim as his own the dishes he learned as a stagiere by the chefs who created them? 

Taking it so far as to duplicate the exact graphic design of the photos and not give attribution, the shrimp pasta dish for example... photos are definitely copyrighted material, aren't they?

Are you saying that all new dishes should be protected? Only the most "original"? How do you define "original"? And who would decide?

Is the point that some dishes aren't just new dishes but use a new technique? So does that mean that the technique should be protected? So no one else could use it without paying a fee? Is that desirable? Is there something different about "molecular" cuisine that makes it appropriate to protect that kind of recipe when no one is arguing for the protection of the miso black cod/molten chocolate cake types of recipes?


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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Are you saying that all new dishes should be protected?  Only the most "original"?  How do you define "original"?  And who would decide?

Is the point that some dishes aren't just new dishes but use a new technique?  So does that mean that the technique should be protected?  So no one else could use it without paying a fee?  Is that desirable?  Is there something different about "molecular" cuisine that makes it appropriate to protect that kind of recipe when no one is arguing for the protection of the miso black cod/molten chocolate cake types of recipes?

Simply put, no. That would require all of my time and I find filing patents less than stimulating. I just file on things that have numerous applications that can cover areas beyond the food world. I dont bother filing on dishes, just new technology.

"Molecular" cuisine is breaking new ground. Every day there are new discoveries that major companies have not considered. Therefore those techniques are the ones that should be protected.

The US Patent and Trademark Office does not recognize recipes as something that can be protected. They are subject to a lot of abiguity due to ethnic diversities and other factors.


Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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it is not my position that anything illegal took place. As Chef Cantu said, it would not be possible to police -- nor could we even define the borders. Nor, in my opinion, is it even desirable. IP protection for a process with wide consumer applications is a different matter.

Nonetheless, I do think that there are times when an invisible line is crossed... it just feels wrong. Everyone's moral compass is different, but sometimes it is obvious. I very much understand that this has no legal meaning.

In writing, unless a novel is exceptionally successful (like the da vinci code right now), there is no other penalty other than the consternation of your peers. In academia it is largely the same. It seems the same here too.

The difference here as well is that it is not a technique or a tool adopted or a recipe that was followed or a presentation copied. It was all of the above.

I should add that Chef G received a lengthy apology from Chef Wickens. In Alinea's book, this incident is closed.

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IMO, at the Big-Name-Chef level, copying recipe and presentation without attribution is rude.

I can see a purpose in providing such copies, at a geographical location so far removed from the source. There is a simple method by which one can provide both attribution and get credit for execution and creative menu planning. List it as Blahblah ala Whosits or Blahblah de Whosits.

As a consumer, I'd be impressed the restauranteur is providing items from such a high level of world-wide creativity, but there'd be no fear I'd mistake it for the kitchens' own creation.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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My point is that there used to not be such a thing as food plagiarism--it was not an issue since it was accepted practice.

Plagiarism is representing someone else's work as your own. I don't see how this was ever an accepted practice in cuisine. When a chef cooks Peche Melba, it's not an attempt to pass off Peche Melba as the chef's own work. The dish is part of what in writing would be called common knowledge.

Certainly, there are some examples that come close to the line. The evolution of a dish, and the exact point at which it passes from being the invention of one chef to being common knowledge, is not the easiest thing in the world to track. But some of these things are no brainers. On the one hand, molten-center chocolate cake has passed into common knowledge. It's not plagiarism to make it, the chef who serves it isn't really representing it as his own -- though maybe he'll give it a little twist of some sort -- and only seriously inexperienced diners will assume it's the chef's invention. On the other hand, these dishes from Alinea and WD-50 are quite unique and have certainly not passed into common knowledge such that it would be good form to serve them without attribution.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Nonetheless, I do think that there are times when an invisible line is crossed... it just feels wrong.  Everyone's moral compass is different, but sometimes it is obvious.  I very much understand that this has no legal meaning.

This post is going to make me highly unpopular, which I am prepared to accept - but no

one else is coming out and saying it - so I'm going to.

If there is an invisible line - it was crossed long ago.

I can remember the first version of the Moto website back in '03 said in great big letters:

"In the tradition of great chefs like Charlie Trotter and Ferran Adria".

I think I may even have a PDF of it somewhere.

It's common knowledge that Achatz staged at El Bulli for a week and then came back

and started doing cuisine in the style of Ferran Adria- something he has been ragged

about numerous times, has commented on himself and still to this day seems as though

he publicly diminishes the fact that this is where a great deal of his inspiration came from

- though his Keller influence also comes through undeniably.

We have chefs with "labs" wearing lab-coats using liquid nitrogen and alginate, centrifuges and plating things in such a similar style that my guess is if you put all the dishes on Flash cards and showed them to a cross section of people - they wouldn't be able to tell what came from where.

I realize chefs are in a position where they are like diamond inspectors and can tell the

difference between a G color diamond and a nearly G color diamond and separate

them into piles - but most people can't.

To many many many people out here it looks as though they have embodied

El Bulli - Adria himself has even made comments about this to the media.

In my opinion - these people owe their existence to people like Trotter, Adria and Keller (whom in turn owe their existence to others) whom they have derived the large part of their success from and who's styles are blatantly evident in what they do.

If anybody is going to start the process of pointing fingers for crossing invisible lines, copying,

or if anyone is going to start charging for their ideas - then I believe the men above

deserve a big fat payout.

Then let the scrambling begin from that point.


"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Actually, you bring up an excellent point...

indeed, I think both Grant and Homaro have acknowledged their debt to Chef Adria in forwarding cuisine -- and chef Adria himself cites others like Arzak. Grant frequently cites Chef Keller as his mentor -- I don't know how much more strongly he can make that case.

However, when Chef Adria dined at Moto and Alinea earlier this month, he was not presented with any courses that were ever served at El Bulli. In fact, he was impressed with the level of creativity and innovation present at both restaurants -- his direct quote to me is that "everyone here takes this incredibly seriously and it is evident -- you should be very proud".

As you say, "and whom in turn owe their existence to others" on down the line.

I reiterate -- the very purpose of a stage is to learn techniques and ideas and then apply them to your own ideas and develop a personal style. You don't need to be a diamond inspector to seperate the dishes in question into piles... my 6 year old can tell that they are the same originiation.

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Certainly, there are some examples that come close to the line. The evolution of a dish, and the exact point at which it passes from being the invention of one chef to being common knowledge, is not the easiest thing in the world to track. But some of these things are no brainers. On the one hand, molten-center chocolate cake has passed into common knowledge. It's not plagiarism to make it, the chef who serves it isn't really representing it as his own -- though maybe he'll give it a little twist of some sort -- and only seriously inexperienced diners will assume it's the chef's invention. On the other hand, these dishes from Alinea and WD-50 are quite unique and have certainly not passed into common knowledge such that it would be good form to serve them without attribution.

FWIW, I think this is the answer.

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Although you have to wonder, when do dishes pass into the "public domain"?

Like, when the first person copied Vongerichten's molten chocolate cake, was he plagiarizing? Was it wrong at first to serve that dish without attribution, but became OK later? And how about Nobu's sable? Was the first Japanese fusion place to copy it wrong, but now it's OK? (Or does someone with more functioning brain cells than me recall that, at first, these dishes were attributed on other menus? -- Not my recollection, I think.)

Again, these aren't rhetorical questions. I really want to know people's answers.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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However, when Chef Adria dined at Moto and Alinea earlier this month, he was not presented with any courses that were ever served at El Bulli.  In fact, he was impressed with the level of creativity and innovation present at both restaurants -- his direct quote to me is that "everyone here takes this incredibly seriously and it is evident -- you should be very proud".

Indeed it does seem they have executed things very well - nor should they not be proud of their achievements.

I was merely pointing out that where you personally seem to draw the invisible line (specific dishes) and where I perceive the invisible line (readily identifiable and attributable concepts, ideas, techniques etc etc of known or even unknown individuals or groups) are very different - as my perception of the line is farther back than yours.

It also does indeed seem evident that these particular dishes were copied - but the point brought by many here is where is that line drawn?

Yes, they have both acknowledge their debt - I never meant to imply they didn't - in some way.

But the level of detail that things are being taken to here begs the question as to whether or not

their mentors should be mentioned and credited in nearly every facet of their operation - for instance when we see a Moto or Alinea cookbook - are we going to see a "Thanks Charlie, Ferran and Thomas" section?

Because it certainly seems to me that many want to own everything after a certain point of "evolution" has been crossed.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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I doubt we'd be having this conversation if the imitated dishes in question hadn't been posted on a website. So one thing I'd like all of you to consider is whether the true offense wasn't so much presenting the dishes without attribution in one restaurant but broadcasting them to the world as if they were originals. Do any of you think it would be OK to present copies of dishes without explicit attribution on the menu, as long as they weren't web-posted and, let's say their origins would be admitted in response to a question by a knowledgeable diner? I would argue in favor of, when in doubt, disclose explicitly, but I'd like to read your views.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Like, when the first person copied Vongerichten's molten chocolate cake, was he plagiarizing?  Was it wrong at first to serve that dish without attribution, but became OK later?  And how about Nobu's sable?  Was the first Japanese fusion place to copy it wrong, but now it's OK? 

I think there's a much sharper focus on invention in avant-garde cuisine than in the case of either of the dishes you've referenced. For one thing, I'm not at all certain that Jean-Georges and Nobu are the inventors of those dishes. A pastry chef could tell us if it was Georges Blanc or a predecessor, and I believe there's at least a claim that Tojo served the miso cod dish first. However, that's not really the point. Each of those dishes represents such a gradual evolution that it's not so clearly marked as an invention. The molten-center chocolate cake is a small variation on various other chocolate pastries. When you get into this avant-garde stuff, though, you're dealing with some pretty radical breaks: a whole new way of making noodles, the anti-griddle, etc. That's a big part of why, I think, the question of copying has been mostly in the background until now. There was grumbling about unoriginal chefs, but there wasn't the same kind of invention we have now.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Pan,

I surely wouldnt know of the situation if not for the web pix. I lean toward attribution. Its good manners.

FatGuy, are you saying chefs shouldnt borrow techniques? Quelle horreur (sp?) - we all have to go back to raw food!

<editted to respond to simultaneous FG post>


Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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whether the true offense wasn't so much presenting the dishes without attribution in one restaurant but broadcasting them to the world as if they were originals

Since when does such a question depend on getting caught or on how many people find out?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think there's a much sharper focus on invention in avant-garde cuisine than in the case of either of the dishes you've referenced. For one thing, I'm not at all certain that Jean-Georges and Nobu are the inventors of those dishes. A pastry chef could tell us if it was Georges Blanc or a predecessor, and I believe there's at least a claim that Tojo served the miso cod dish first. However, that's not really the point. Each of those dishes represents such a gradual evolution that it's not so clearly marked as an invention. The molten-center chocolate cake is a small variation on various other chocolate pastries. When you get into this avant-garde stuff, though, you're dealing with some pretty radical breaks: a whole new way of making noodles, the anti-griddle, etc. That's a big part of why, I think, the question of copying has been mostly in the background until now. There was grumbling about unoriginal chefs, but there wasn't the same kind of invention we have now.

Thanks. That was the answer I was looking for.

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I would bet that the would be Alinea book would indeed include a thanks to Adria, and most especially Keller.

But the point of evolution is crossed when a chef begins to develop techniques of their own. It is interesting to note that in the history of visual art, is is not uncommon for two artists to simultaneously develop a similar style or technique even though they were seperated culturally and quite literally by many miles. So it is possible, and even quite likely, that two chefs will come up with similar ideas independently of one-another.

Nonetheless, Cezanne did not see a painting of another artist and then go home and paint the identical subject and proclaim it as his own. Often it is a gray area, sometimes it is not.

I think Fat Guy has hit the nail on the head all around. I nominate him to be my spokesperson from here out -- but only on this topic, please!

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Wow! Great discussion everyone.

In reality, who cares if a restaurant in Melbourne offers up a dish from a restaurant in New York, and pretends it's their own?

IMO, the copying restaurant itself should care. Whether there is a law against it or not, a chef who simply copies a unique dish created by another, with no credit is wrong. No one might be able to sue him for doing it, but he (or she) must know that it is wrong.

Sizzleteeth- Cantu or Achatz using what they learned from Adria to create their own unique dishes is very different than copying an Adria dish verbatim to the last garnish.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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This argument is one of intellectual property. I'm not a lawyer, but it would be interesting to hear the legal perspective on patents and copyrights as it applies to food.

Intellectual property protection for recipes is notoriously weak, unless you want to spend a lot of time and money and get a patent. A patent would give you the right to be the only person or company to use the recipe. You'd have to patent in all the countries you feel you would be at risk or would want to protect yourself, and you'd have to keep an eye out and sue anyone infringing your patent - it's only a right to protect yourself, the government doesn't police this at all. This is an extremely expensive proposition.

Patents - This route is usually only used by large food manufacturing companies, as they can afford to use it. For an example, go to www.uspto.gov and search for patent 6,783,782 - Grooved freezer-to-oven pizza crust - owned by Pillsbury. They note the size, shape, position of grooves, and other detailed information. If they found anyone else doing the same thing, they could sue them for infringement. You could put together your own US patent for a few thousand dollars (plus renewal fees), but if you brought in a lawyer it could easily cost tens of thousands. And that's before you sue anyone.

Design patents - Design patents are utilized to protect the novel ornamental features of a utilitarian object. I haven't looked at how this applies to recipes, but especially with visual presentations, this may be a way forward. But again, it would be expensive (although much cheaper than a utility patent) and will need to be defended.

Copyright - A mere listing of ingredients for a recipe is not copyrightable. However, if eg. a cookbook or other author spices up his or her recipes with explanatory material, such material is protectible. One court has suggested that this could include advice on wines to go with the meal, hints on place settings and appropriate music, or tales of a recipe’s historical or ethnic origin. (Publications Int’l Ltd v. Meredith Corp., 88 F.3d 473 (7th Cir. 1996) http://www.pddoc.com/copyright/publications_v_meredith.htm. Photographs or drawings included in a cookbook would also be copyrightable unless taken from other public domain sources. Keep in mind, however, that it is only the individual bare-bones recipes that are in the public domain. A collection of numerous recipes can be protected as a compilation. But in this event the copyright only extends to the selection and arrangements of the recipes as a whole. The individual recipes are still not protected.

Copyright of photographs - Only photos that are original can have copyright protection. What can be protected is:

- The way the photograph is made – choice of time, light exposure, camera angle or perspective, etc

- The arrangement of the people, scenery, or other subjects depicted

- A photo that recreates a scene unlikely to recur, eg a battle between an elephant and a tiger

So, the item that is photographed can't really be protected - you could photograph a similar subject with different artistic choices without infringing photograph copyright.

This information all comes from various NOLO books, especially The public domain – how to find & use copyright-free writings, music, art & more by Stephen Fishman, 2004. NOLO have easy-to-read legal books, and I love them.

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Great thread topic.

I will attempt to answer Sizzleteeth's questions as well. Influence is ubiquitous. Everyone is influenced by others both positively and negatively. It is certainly courteous to recognize conscious influences, but impossible to recognize all subconscious influences. While courteous, it shouldn't be necessary. The whole world of the stagiere is built upon being influenced. The chef of a restaurant using staiges counts on the staige being influenced and disseminating ideas. The chef gains in stature by subsequent emulation with their proteges utilizing techniques and styles. However, if that protege was to blatantly copy a recipe and claim it for him or herself that is clearly a different story. Copy it and offer it as homage to the originator? Sure, that is where imitation is flattery.

As for photographs of food on the internet - it cuts both ways. I see it as protection for the truly creative chef. While another chef may get ideas, the presentation at least should be protected. Where they gray area starts coming into play is when chefs start doing riffs on original creations. At what point does the new creation belong to the chef? Is it a change of one ingredient? A slight change in plating? Obviously, the closer a recipe and presentation is to the original the clearer the infraction is. I agree though, that ultimately it is a question of ethics. If a dish is clearly a take on a previous dish identifiable as a creation it should be credited as such. If it is a dish that is a variation on a dish within a cultural domain or widely known, "credit" is not only not necessary, it would be difficult to attribute.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Sizzleteeth- Cantu or Achatz using what they learned from Adria to create their own unique dishes is very different than copying an Adria dish verbatim to the last garnish.

Let me be the first to admit that I do not come from a position of innocence.

In my time I have lied, cheated and stolen - outright traced patterns line for line, screwed people over, been blinded by greed and generally made some bad decisions - especially in my younger days.

I'll even give you examples if you like.

I make no claim otherwise and I really hope I have learned my lesson from those past occurrences and do not repeat my mistakes in the future - though as a human being I am not immune to anything that may cause something like that to occur.

I'm not a chef, my food is not the most delicious you've ever eaten nor are the things I cook the most innovative - as I said before - as far as I know, as a person in any aspect of my life I am not doing anything in exclusion of all others

But I believe that is the question we are trying to answer, is it very different when you get down to specifics?

I'll be interested to see what the outcome is - as I can only speak from my personal point of view - which contains many filters and many biases - even as much as I try to avoid those very things.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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By the way, welcome to eGullet, pen_h!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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somehow i think this topic had to come up...

before getting into detail i have to say that we will absolutely get nowhere with any copycat accusations at all. the thing that we call "avantgarde cuisine" is a brand new artform, and comes with all the "influenced by" side effects. i strongly believe in the phrase "what goes around comes around" thats why whenever i discover something cool i let others know just for the sake of it (as i did with peelzyme for example ;-) to chef cantu i want to say i feel deeply sorry for his staffers who need to sign any nda´s :-(

i PERSONALLY think (and i dont want bother anyone here)

that i might not be that proud of beeing solely known

for the "invention" of the spicerubbed inkjetted yet eatable wafer

cheers

torsten s.


Edited by schneich (log)

toertchen toertchen

patissier chocolatier cafe

cologne, germany

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      I thought the results were interesting. I cooked at 60C for 8 hours. I have always used https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/a-better-way-to-turkey-cook-that-bird-sous-vide-for-the-best-feast-ever which gives long cooking times at lower temperature. I have found that as according to this page https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/11/sous-vide-turkey-breast-crispy-skin-recipe-thanksgiving.html that 55C gives turkey which is just a little too pink for most tastes. Over the last few years have increased the temperature up to 59/60 and I find it perfect - very moist and tender, but pale not pink.
      See attached images. I changed my mind a couple of times and started at 58 then 60 then 59 again, so ignore the slight variations. The thing I found interesting was that the thickest part (of a large breast) reached 55C in around 1 hour 40 mins and target of 59 in 2 hours 30 mins. Now I appreciate that sous vide is a combination of temperature and time or duration, but the data make me think that around 4 hours would be sufficient, as per the seriouseats table. I have previously used the chefsteps 55-58 for their much longer advised times, up to 12 hours and the meat is still quite pink at the end, so I dont believe 55 for 12 hours would effectively be the same.
      From now on I will watching the internal temperatures with interest. This has always been the (relative) unkown for sous vide amateurs. 


    • By chefg
      I have to say designing the Alinea kitchen has been one of the most exciting experiences thus far in the opening of this restaurant. I have been fortunate to have been “raised” in some of the best kitchens in the country. When I arrived at the French Laundry in August 1996 the “new kitchen” had just been completed. Often times you would hear the man talk about the good old days of cooking on a residential range with only one refrigerator and warped out sauté pans with wiggly handles. When I started about 50% of the custom stainless steel was in place. The walls smooth with tile and carpet on the floors. I recall the feeling of anxiety when working for fear that I would dirty up the kitchen, not a common concern for most cooks in commercial kitchens.
      The French Laundry kitchen didn’t stop, it continued to evolve over the four years I was there. I vividly remember the addition of the custom fish/canapé stainless unit. Allowing the poissonier to keep his mise en place in beautiful 1/9 pan rails instead of the ice cube filled fish lugs. Each advancement in technology and ergonomics made the kitchen a more efficient and exacting machine.
      When I returned to the Laundry this past July for the 10th anniversary I was shocked that it had metomorphisized once again. The butcher room was now a sea of custom stainless steel low boys, the pot sink area was expanded, the walk-in moved, and an office added to the corner of the kitchen. The kitchen as I left it in June of 2001 was beautiful and extremely functional, of course it is even more so now. It is the relentless pursuit of detail and concise thought that allows the French Laundry kitchen to be one of the best for cooks to execute their craft…..16 hours a day.
      This was good motivation.
      When it came time to design my kitchen I drew on experiences at Trio, TFL and other kitchens I was familiar with to define the positives and negatives of those designs. We were faced with a 21x 44' rectangle. This space would not allow for my original kitchen design idea of four islands postioned throughout the kitchen, but ultimately gave way for the current design which I think is actually better than the original. But most the important aspect in shaping the final design was the cuisine. Due to the nature of food that we produce a typical layout with common equipment standards and dimensions do not work. Here is where the team drew on our experiences from Trio. By looking at the techniques we utilized we came to several conclusions.
      1. A conventional range was not our main heat source. We do need the flat tops and some open burners for applications such as braising and limited stock work. But our overall use of this piece of equipment is somewhat low. Given that we wanted four open burners and two flat tops with two ovens I began to source out a reliable unit. We settled on the Molteni G230.

      2. Upon analyzing our other heat source needs we decided to place a large focus on induction. By utilizing portable induction burners we are allowed the flexibility to give as much power as needed to a specific station in the kitchen. Obviously induction’s radiant heat is very low, and this allows us to keep the temperature in the kitchen reasonable, yet the power is quite high. 31,000 BTU's of highly controlable heat. But the main reason for choosing this flexible source of heat is the fact that each chef typically employed at least four different cooking applications on a given night. This huge flux in technique and the realization that the menu would change entirely in 8 weeks time meant that we had to design a kitchen that could evolve on a nightly basis. And last, we are very specific with temperatures; induction makes it easier for us to hold a liquid at a predetermined temperature for long periods of time without fluctuation. They operate between 85 and 500 degrees farenheit. We did a great deal of research on the different producers of induction and favored Cooktek. The fact that they are the only U.S manufacturer of commercial induction cooking equipment and located in Chicago made the decision easier. Their innovative approach to induction may prove to be even more exciting as we are already talking about new product development in the future.

      3. a. The complexity of the presentations and a la minute plate-ups of the food require a great deal of surface area devoted to plating. This was one of the most critical factors in determining the basic shape of the kitchen. The size of some of today's popular plates, the amount detail in each composition, coupled with the fact that producing tasting menus vs. ala carte means sometimes large waves of same dish pick ups made it necessary for us to have over 44' of linear plating surface.
      b. Virtually nothing goes vertical above the 36” counter top in the space. All food, plates, equipment, and dry good storage are contained by under counter units. There are a few exceptions such as the infrared salamanders, the three-door refrigerator, and the hood. This allows all the cooks a clear line of communication between each other and the front staff. It allows me an easy sight line to survey the entire kitchen’s progress with a quick glance.
      Given these two points it seemed obvious that we needed to combine the two and create custom pieces that would fulfill both needs. Large spans of plating surfaces with all food and equipment storage below. As you can see we ended up with two 22’ long units. Each function as a pass and under counter storage.
      The building is 21’ wide wall to wall. This allowed us just enough space to create two lines on each exterior wall with their passes forming a 60” corridor for the pick up of plates and finishing of dishes.
      4. We decided to add a station to the kitchen. At Trio we had five including:
      a. pastry
      b. cold garde manger
      c. hot garde manger
      d. fish
      e. meat
      Now that we had more space, and the ability to give each station multiple heat
      sources regardless of their location in the kitchen, we could spread the workload even further. We also realized it doesn’t make much sense to identify each station by classic French Bragade terms. A saucier did not solely cook meat with classic techniques and prepare various traditional stocks and sauces…in fact quite the opposite. This holds true with most of the stations, with the exception of pastry, but even they will have very unconventional techniques, menu placement and involvement in the kitchen systems. We will add a station that will be responsible for a large majority of the one-bite courses both sweet and savory.
      5.Given the size constraints of the building we realized a walk-in would not be possible in the kitchen. If we were to have one it would be in the basement. Having experienced this at Trio we decided to design the kitchen without a walk-in, making up for the space in various lowboy locations and a three-door reach-in. I experienced the walk-in less environment when I worked at Charlie Trotter’s. It is certainly different, but as with most things if done properly it provides a very efficient environment. It works best in situations where fresh products are brought in daily for that days use. And prevents ordering in large quantities. It also provides us with very specific units to house different items. We will utilize the 3-door refrigerator to store the majority of the vegetables and herbs along with some staple mise en place, and items that cannot be made in very small quantities like stocks. Raw meat will have it’s own lowboys as well as fish, dairy, and all frozen products.
      6. At Trio we found ourselves using the salamander a great deal. It is very useful for melting sugar, bringing on transparent qualities in things like fat and cheese, cooking items intensely on only one side, and it is a highly controllable non-direct heat source. Due to the air gap between the foodstuff and the heat elements the cook can control the degree of heat applied to the dish based on the technique he is using. It becomes a very versatile tool in the modern kitchen, so much so that we will install three Sodir infrared salamanders.

      Again, this is to insure that all the cooks have access to all of the techniques in the kitchen. As I said before it is important for our cooks to be able to sauté, simmer, poach, fry, grill, salamander, and freeze at the same time and sometimes for the same dish.
      We have a few unusual pieces of equipment in the kitchen; the most is probably a centrifuge. A few months ago Nick and I were driving home from a design meeting and ended up talking about signature dishes and menu repetition. Of course the black truffle explosion came up and he asked if I would have it on the menu at Alinea. I replied a firm no, but shortly thereafter said I would enjoy updating it. We threw around some tongue and cheek ideas like White Truffle Implosion, and Truffle Explosion 2005….I said it was a goal of mine to make a frozen ball with a liquid center….but then dismissed it as nearly impossible. Within a few minutes he said …”I got it…we need a centrifuge” His explanation was simple, place the desired liquid in a spherical mold and place on the centrifuge…place the whole thing in the freezer. Within days he had one in the test kitchen. I guess this is better suited for the kitchen lab topic that we will be starting in a few weeks…
      We are working on a upload of the kitchen blueprints. When those post I plan on going into more detail about certian aspects of the design. Doing so now would be pointless as the viewer does not have a reference point.
    • By ronnie_suburban
      It’s the first day of cooking in Alinea's Food Lab and the mood is relaxed. We’re in a residential kitchen but there’s nothing ordinary about it. Chef Grant, along with sous chefs John Peters and Curtis Duffy are setting up. The sight of the 3 steady pros, each in their chef’s whites, working away, does not match this domestic space. Nor does the intimidating display of industrial tools lined up on the counters. While the traditional elements are here in this suburban kitchen: oven, cooktop, sink, so too are the tools of modern restaurant cookery: pacojet, cryovac machine, paint stripping heat gun…wait, a paint stripping heat gun?
      In the physical realm, the Food Lab is a tangible space where the conventional and the unconventional are melded together in the quest for new culinary territory. With Alinea’s construction under way, the team must be resourceful. This meant that renting a space large enough to house both the office and the kitchen aspects of the food lab was out of the question.
      The decision was made to take over a large office space for the research and administrative aspects of Alinea and transform a residential kitchen into the Lab. Achatz and the team would work three days per week at the office researching all aspects of gastronomy and brainstorming new dishes, while managing the project as a whole. The remaining time would be spent in the kitchen executing the ideas formulated at the office. “At first I thought separating the two would be problematic,” says Grant “but in the end we are finding it very productive. It allows us to really focus on the tasks at hand, and also immerse ourselves in the environment conducive to each discipline.” The menus for opening night—containing as many as 50 never-before-served dishes--must be conceived, designed, tested and perfected. The Alinea team does not want to fly without a net on opening night.
      On a more abstract level, the Food Lab is simply the series of processes that continually loop in the minds of Chef Grant and his team. While there is no single conduit by which prospective menus--and the dishes which comprise them--arrive at Alinea, virtually all of them start in Chef Grant's imagination and eventually take form after brainstorming sessions between the Chef and his team. Menus are charted, based on the seasonality of their respective components, and the details of each dish are then laid out on paper, computer or both and brought to the kitchen for development. In this regard, the Food Lab provides something very special to the Chef and his team. “We consider the food lab a luxury,” says Grant. Once Alinea is open and the restaurant’s daily operations are consuming up to 16 hours of each day, time for such creative planning (aka play) will be scarce. Building a library of concepts, ideas and plans for future menus now will be extraordinarily valuable in the future. Otherwise, such planning sessions will have to take place in the 17th and 18th hours of future workdays, as they did when the Chef and his team were at Trio.
      Today, several projects are planned and the Chefs dig into their preparations as soon as their equipment setup is complete…
      Poached Broccoli Stem with wild Coho roe, crispy bread, grapefruit
      Stem cooked sous vide (butter, salt, granulated cane juice)
      Machine-sliced thin bread
      Dairyless grapefruit “pudding”
      Dried Crème Brulee
      Caramel orb shell made with bubble maker and heat gun
      Powdered interior made with dried butterfat, egg yolks, powdered sugar & vanilla
      PB&J
      Peeled grapes on the stem
      Peanut butter coating
      Wrap in brioche
      Broil
      Micro-grated, roasted peanuts
      Instant Tropical Pudding
      Freeze Dried Powders of coconut, pineapple, banana
      Young coconut water spiked with rum
      Muscovado Sugar
      Cilantro
      Candied Chili
      Jamaican Peppercorn
      Vanilla Bean
      The steps required to comprise each dish are, as one might imagine, intricate and numerous. For the Poached Broccoli Stem, Chef Grant begins by separating the broccoli stems from the florets. The stems are stripped of their fibrous exteriors and pared down until they are uniform in size. Grant comments on the use of the second hand part of the vegetable: “This dish started with the roe. Every year we receive the most amazing Brook Trout Roe from Steve Stallard, my friend and owner of Blis. Typically, we serve the eggs with an element of sweetness. I find it goes very well with the ultra fresh salinity of the week-old roe. This time around we wanted to take a savory approach so I began looking into complimenting flavors in the vegetal category. About the same time, our group had a discussion about secondary parts of vegetables and the stem of broccoli came up. I had a past experience with the stem and found it to be very reminiscent of cabbage. Knowing that cabbage and caviar are essentially a classic pairing, I felt confident that we could work the dish out. Now I'm struggling to decide if this is a broccoli dish or in fact a roe dish, I think they really battle for the top position and that helps makes the dish very complex."

      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

      The stems are placed in a polyethylene bag, along with butter, salt and granulated cane juice. The bag is sealed with a cryovac machine

      The sealed stems are placed in a 170 degree F water to cook, sous vide, until extremely tender; about three hours

      Broccoli stems after cooking
      The crisp bread element is fabricated via the use of an industrial deli slicer. Chef Grant then brushes the sectioned pieces of poached broccoli stem with eggwash, affixes them to the thin planks of brioche and places them in a fry pan with butter.

      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

      A bright green broccoli puree is made with a vita-prep blender. Here, Chef Grant "mohawks" it onto china given to him by Thomas Keller

      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
      Grant is still displeased at the dish's appearance. "The dish tastes as I envisioned it....texturally complex, with the crispness of the bread, the soft elements of the floret puree and stem, and the pop of the eggs. The buttery richness from the bread gives the stem the flavor of the melted cabbage I loved at the [French] Laundry. And the hot and cold contrasts from the roe and broccoli …I like it…..I just don’t like the way it looks.” Another attempt and the group agrees, it is better but not “the one.” The use of the thinly sliced cross sections of peeled grapefruit energizes the group. In the next rendition, they make small packets with the ultra thinly-sliced grapefruit containing the roe...

      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
      At this point the team decides to move on and come back to it next week. After some conversation they decide that in the final dish, broccoli will appear in at least 5 forms: poached stems, floret puree, some raw form of the stem, the tiny individual sprouts of broccoli florets, and the blooms. Grant feels that Poached Broccoli Stem could be ready for service, although he still envisions some changes for the dish that will make it even more emblematic of his personal style. “Our dishes continue to evolve after they hit the menu. It is important for us to get to know them better before we can clearly see their weaknesses.”
      The thought for the dried crème brulee originated over a year ago when a regular customer jokingly asked for a crème brulee for dessert. “He said it as joke, I took it as a challenge,” says Grant. "Of course, we never intended to give him a regular crème brulee.” The team tried various techniques to create the powder-filled caramel bubble while at Trio to no avail. An acceptable filling for the Dried Crème Brulee has been developed by the Chef and his team but several different methods, attempted today, to create the orb from caramelized sugar have been less than 100% successful.

      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
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